The kidneys are part of your urinary tract system, and their job is to control the fluid and chemical levels in the body by cleaning the blood.
The kidneys have the important role of creating urine from the waste and the excess fluid in the body. Sometimes however, the urine in your body contains a high level of minerals and salts that form hard deposits inside your kidneys. These hard deposits are known as kidney stones. They are formed when there is not enough liquid in the urine to dilute out waste chemicals, such as calcium, oxalate and phosphorous. Kidney stones are much more likely to develop if you do not drink enough fluid.
As the urethra is smaller than the stone, passing a kidney stone can be a painful process. Some kidney stones of a large stone will not pass without the help of a physician.
People with kidney stones also often experience the following symptoms:
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Pain when urinating
- Red, pink or brown tinted urine
- Urine that is cloudy
- Passing tiny amounts of urine
- An intense need to empty the bladder
- Nausea and vomiting
24-year-old Jack looks back on his experience with kidney stones, stating “it was the worst pain ever. I’ve had two back surgeries and would rather have another one than deal with stones. However, I waited until I literally would rather die than go through the pain of waiting, and it could’ve been prevented if I’d gone earlier to prevent the excruciating pain”.
In 2016, it was revealed that one in seven people are now likely to require hospital treatment for kidney stones. Many people are set to suffer the consequences with a significant strain being placed on the NHS. The rise of obesity in the UK is thought to be one contribution to this. There is a direct link between being overweight or obese and the development of kidney stones. With obesity set to increase significantly over the upcoming years, the condition is expected to continue rising.
Kidney Stones and Urinary Incontinence
Kidney stones can actually contribute to urinary incontinence, as they travel down the tubes leading from the kidneys to the bladder. This can sometimes create blockages, which makes it hard to pass urine. They can also cause a need to urinate constantly. Larger kidney stones can often also cause a significant pain in your stomach or groin. They can also cause a feeling of sickness and even vomiting.
The most common type of incontinence that people with kidney stones experience is urge incontinence. Kidney stones can make you feel an urgent need to use the bathroom, which can lead to leaks and accidents.
Did You Know:
Once someone's had one kidney stone, they have about a 50/50 chance of getting another
Preventing Kidney Stones
Some individuals are more likely to develop kidney stones, due to heredity or having stones before. However, you can take several measures to prevent kidney stones.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Studies have found that keeping a healthy weight can actually reduce your risk for kidney stones. In particular, eating less salty food and more fruit and vegetables can improve kidney health.
- Make hydration a priority. Ensure you drink enough water, as this can improve kidney health and ensure it is better able to filter calcium.
- Watch your sugar and salt intake. This is particularly important if you have previously suffered with kidney stones. Make sure you avoid foods that are very high in salt and sugar.
- Increase your calcium intake. Getting too little calcium in your diet can cause oxalate levels to rise and cause kidney stones. Ideally, obtain calcium from foods, since some studies have linked taking calcium supplements to kidney stones. It is recommended that men aged 50 and older should get 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium each day, along with 800 to 1,000 international units of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium.